Wisconsin Department of Transportation

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State right-of-way permits

Utility | STH connection | Work on highway right-of-way

Utility work being performed along a Wisconsin highway

A permit is required to work in the right-of-way of an Interstate, U.S. or state highway. All of these numbered highways make up the state trunk highway (STH) system.

The permitted work may consist of, but is not limited to:

  • Excavating
  • Placing fill materials
  • Grading
  • Paving
  • Surveying
  • Boring under a highway
  • Installing an overhead line
  • Blocking traffic

A permit must be obtained from the Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT) prior to the start of any work, and a copy of the permit (either paper or electronic) must be at the work-site at all times.

WisDOT issues permits for most numbered highways. However, many cities and villages issue permits for work performed on state and U.S. highways located within their boundaries. These sections are called "connecting highways" and are not maintained by WisDOT (see connecting highway list). Please check with WisDOT or the municipality to verify which agency has the permitting authority.

There are three main types of permits for work in state highway right-of-way:

Utility permits

Utility permits are required to construct, operate or maintain a utility facility. This includes, but is not limited to:

  • Gas/Oil
  • Electric
  • Telecommunications
  • Cellular
  • Fiber optics
  • Water (including irrigation lines)
  • Sanitary sewer
  • Private facilities (non-public use/ownership)

WisDOT has a comprehensive Utility Accommodation Policy (UAP) that regulates the construction, operation and maintenance of utility facilities on all highways under WisDOT's jurisdiction. The UAP details the requirements necessary to obtain a permit. Once approved, the permit remains in effect as long as the facility is operated and maintained according to permit conditions and the UAP.

UAP revisions

The UAP has been significantly revised to coincide with reformatting the entire Highway Maintenance Manual (HMM). The new format now resembles other WisDOT documents such as the Facilities Development Manual and Construction Materials Manual. This should allow for easier web searches involving all WisDOT manuals.

The new HMM format places the UAP under Chapter 9, Right-of-Way Use & Permits, Section 15, Utility Accommodation, instead of HMM Chapter 96. A complete list and links to all of the new procedures is available at:

Use the following document to compare the various sections of old HMM Chapter 96 with new HMM 09-15-00:

How to apply for a utility permit

Fill out form DT1553, Application/Permit to Construct and Operate Utility Facilities on Highway Right-of-Way, and submit it along with the appropriate plans, drawings or other details to the WisDOT regional transportation office responsible for the county where the utility project will be located. For faster permit application processing, please submit all materials electronically via email attachment, or for larger files, a file transfer protocol (FTP) site. If you do not have access to a FTP site, WisDOT can provide one. Submit the permit form as a Word document with an electronic (typed) signature instead of scanning the document. Supporting materials should be in PDF format. You may also submit the application and supporting materials by regular mail. If you do this, the application must be filled out in ink.

Form DT1553

Form DT1553 is available in Word 97-2003 or 2007 versions. Forms that include instructions are labeled DT1553i.

Questions regarding specific utility permit issues or requests should be directed to the WisDOT regional transportation office.

Questions on WisDOT's Utility Accommodation Policy and forms should be directed to:

Robert Fasick
Wisconsin DOT
Bureau of Highway Maintenance
P.O. Box 7986 - Room 501
Madison, WI 53707-7986
OR 4802 Sheboygan Ave., Room 501
Madison, WI 53705
(608) 266-3438
robert.fasick@dot.wi.gov

Subscribe to Utility Accommodation Policy email list

Sign up to receive email notifications when the Utility Accommodation Policy or form DT1553 is updated. Brief email messages will be sent to let you know of updates and where you can view or download our documents. We will also provide information of interest to subscribers regarding other related documents.

Utility Accommodation Policy
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Utility relocations on highway projects

Questions regarding the relocation of utility facilities associated with highway improvement projects should be directed to one of the utility coordinators in the transportation region office responsible for the project. These projects may or may not require a WisDOT utility permit.

Questions on WisDOT's utility coordination guide should be directed to:

Warren La Duke
Wisconsin DOT
Bureau of Technical Services
P.O. Box 7916 - Room 451
Madison, WI 53707-7916
(608) 266-3832
warren.laduke@dot.wi.gov

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State Trunk Highway (STH) connection permits

(Driveway, public or private road, and recreational trail permits)

Introduction

A driveway, public or private road, or recreational trail is a connection between property that abuts state trunk highway right-of-way and the highway itself. A STH connection permit is required when property owners and local agencies want to:

  • Construct a new connection
  • Remove an existing connection
  • Relocate an existing connection
  • Alter an existing connection, which includes a change of use
  • Validate an existing unpermitted connection (when legal)

"Alter" means any change done to a connection beyond routine maintenance such as widening, paving, replacing a culvert, and improvements to the highway.

"Change of use" means any modification to a property that results in a change in the number and/or types of vehicles using a property’s connection. Property modifications may include, but are not limited to:

  • Changing from a residential to a commercial or industrial use
  • Changing from single to multiple residential use
  • Subdividing to accommodate additional residences or businesses
  • Changing the type of business

On highways under WisDOT jurisdiction, permits are required to:

  • Construct a new driveway or road/street connection
  • Alter an existing driveway or road/street connection
  • Change the use (residential, commercial, field entrance, etc.) of an existing driveway

Classifications and restrictions

A connection is classified by its use or how it serves a property. Types of use include:

1. Commercial/industrial: A driveway or private road that serves a business or non-profit organization.

2. Residential: A driveway or private road that serves single and multiple family homes, apartments, condominiums, townhouses, etc.

3. Agricultural: A field entrance and entrances to recreational or hunting lands. This use may also serve to provide an entrance to farm buildings but not residential buildings. It does not include commercial-type activities.

4. Public Road: A road, street, highway, etc. connecting to a state trunk highway that is maintained by a local unit of government. A road not maintained by a unit of government is categorized under 1 or 2.

5. Trail or Trail Crossing: Any pedestrian, bicycle, snowmobile, equestrian, etc., trail that runs longitudinally along and/or crosses a state trunk highway.

Some properties have access restrictions. Examples of restrictions include:

  • No direct access is allowed to a state trunk highway
  • Only one connection is allowed to a state trunk highway
  • A connection has a specific use (for example, agricultural – not residential or commercial)
  • A connection has to be built at a specific location
  • A connection has right-in, right-out turns only (no median opening allowed)

A property or group of properties may also have multiple access restrictions, which should be specified in the property deed(s).

If a property has access restrictions, WisDOT may not be able to issue a STH connection permit or may only be able to issue a permit that meets the restrictions. WisDOT may also issue a STH connection permit with certain restrictions in order to ensure the safety and operability of a state trunk highway, for example, limiting the connection to a certain type of use or a maximum number of vehicles per day.

How to apply for a STH connection permit

Fill out form DT1504 -Application/Permit for Connection to State Trunk Highway and follow the instructions. Submit the completed form to the WisDOT regional transportation office responsible for the county where the connection is or will be located.

In addition to the application form, you will need to provide:

  • A location sketch. You may use form DT1248 – STH Connection Location Sketch
  • Design details (dimensions, type/size of culverts, materials, surface grades, etc.)
  • A copy of the property deed
  • A copy of a certified survey map (if applicable)
  • Evidence of a land division (if applicable)

You may also be asked to provide some type of proof that you have the authority to apply for a permit if you are not the property owner. A copy of an "Offer to Purchase Property" is an example of such proof.

For faster permit application processing, please submit all materials electronically via email attachment, or for larger files, a file transfer protocol (FTP) site. If you do not have access to a FTP site, WisDOT can provide one. Submit the permit form as a Word document with an electronic (typed) signature instead of scanning the document. Supporting materials should be in PDF format. You may also submit the application and supporting materials by regular mail. If you do this, the application must be filled out in ink.

Once issued, a STH connection permit remains in effect until cancellation by the property owner or local agency, expiration of a temporary permit date, or revocation by WisDOT.

Existing connections without permits

If an existing connection on your property does not have a valid WisDOT STH connection permit, you may be able to obtain a permit if it meets current law, standards and policy or if the connection can be legally altered or relocated to do so. Contact the WisDOT regional transportation office responsible for the county where the connection is located and a staff person will evaluate your situation. If an existing unpermitted connection meets current law, standards and policy, WisDOT may issue a connection permit to a property owner without his/her involvement or signature. This might occur when WisDOT conducts an inventory of its connections along a STH, for example, with a highway improvement project.

Maintenance

Property owners and local agencies are expected to perform routine maintenance on the portion of their connections within state trunk highway right-of-way whether or not the connections have a valid WisDOT permit or are nonconforming. Routine maintenance includes items like sealing asphalt, grading gravel, culvert replacement and cleanout, and minor repairs. This type of work can usually be done without a permit unless the work affects traffic in some manner or could interfere with a WisDOT highway improvement or maintenance project.

Authority

WisDOT’s legal authority to issue STH connection permits comes from Wisconsin Statute 86.07(2) and Administrative Rule Trans 231.

Questions

Questions on specific STH connection permit issues or requests should be directed to the WisDOT regional transportation office. Questions on WisDOT STH connection permit policy and forms should be directed to:

Robert Fasick
Wisconsin DOT
Bureau of Highway Maintenance
P.O. Box 7986 - Room 501
Madison, WI 53707-7986
(608) 266-3438
robert.fasick@dot.wi.gov

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Work on highway right-of-way permits

A permit is required for any other state trunk highway right-of-way work that is not related to utilities, driveways or road/street connections. This work may include, but is not limited to:

  • Storm sewers
  • Drain pipes and drain tiles
  • Landscaping
  • Ground monitoring wells
  • Vegetation cutting under §84.305
  • Surveying
  • Soil borings
  • Crash investigation and clean-up
  • Removal of contaminated soils
  • Environmental and invasive species assessments

How to apply for a work on highway right-of-way permit

Fill out form DT1812 - Application/Permit To Work on Highway Right-of-Way, and provide a complete description of the proposed work along with detail drawings, construction methods, types of materials, and the length of time needed to complete the work. Submit the completed form and supporting documentation to the WisDOT regional transportation office responsible for the county where the proposed work will be located.

For faster permit application processing, please submit all materials electronically via email attachment, or for larger files, a file transfer protocol (FTP) site. If you do not have access to a FTP site, WisDOT can provide one. Submit the permit form as a Word document with an electronic (typed) signature instead of scanning the document. Supporting materials should be in PDF format. You may also submit the application and supporting materials by regular mail. If you do this, the application must be filled out in ink.

Questions on specific work on highway right-of-way permit issues or requests should be directed to the WisDOT regional transportation office.

Questions on WisDOT work on highway right-of-way permit policy and form should be directed to:

Robert Fasick
Wisconsin DOT Bureau of Highway Maintenance
P.O. Box 7986 - Room 501
Madison, WI 53707-7986
(608) 266-3438
robert.fasick@dot.wi.gov

Environmental coordination - all State Right-of-Way Permits

Work on highway right-of-way permits may require environmental coordination in the form of obtaining permits from other regulatory agencies or providing proof to WisDOT that those permits are not required. The following information has been provided as a guide:

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